Two weeks ago I boarded a plane on a Dutch airline with three friends traveling Dallas–>Amsterdam–>Munich. The anticipation made everything seem exciting, and my little group marveled over and over on the fact that the dates for our trip had finally come! We were actually on a plane going to our destination…it almost didn’t seem real.
First stop in Europe: Munich, Germany. I’ve learned that a piece of my heart belongs in Germany. It was exciting to be in the land of my heritage and even be mistaken as a native at times (before I actually opened my mouth to speak, of course).
I loved everything about it. The food, the people, the language, the sights, the atmosphere…I couldn’t get enough! We were in the capital of Bavaria, so we saw a bit of their traditional lederhosen and dirndl dresses. The picture I have below has a more modern twist on the design, but you only see store fronts like this in Bavaria! I believe every place where we sat down to eat had waiters were wearing the traditional costumes.
It was unreal being in Germany and exploring the streets and surrounding neighborhoods. It was my first stroll in Europe and I was in awe at everything.
The New Town Hall (Neues Rathaus) in Marienplatz (the main square of the city..since the 1100’s!!).
That night our group took the subway and walked to our first place for dinner, a quaint traditional restaurant complete with lederhosen and dirndl. That was just the beginning of our experience with bread bread bread SO much BROT! However, the food was delicious, and I swear there wasn’t a thing I ate on this trip that I didn’t love.
This is our little group from Dallas! Amanda, Becca, me, and Rosy enjoying our liters of beer. Now, I normally don’t like and don’t drink beer. But…when in Rome, right?
After our first night in the city, we woke up to rain on the following day. I figured it might pass sooner or later and sauntered out of our hostel, braving the rain. I cannot tell you how much I started to regret not purchasing a rain coat before the trip! It was starting to reach a miserable state, walking around in the open. It was also cold!
Due to desperate circumstances, our first agenda quickly became finding some sort of protection from the rain. I wandered into the first open store before 10AM and grabbed an umbrella. The very nice lady at the register greeted me with a “Hallo,” to which I responded in kind. She then rattled something off in German and my eyes went wide, not even being able to grasp numbers in her sentence. With a polite smile, she reverted to English and asked if I would like to use it now. “Yes, please!” With that I perfected my “danke schön” and truly was extremely grateful for a shield from the rain.
My group kept on walking, hopefully looking for rain jackets, and we finally found some that weren’t over €150. Amanda and I were ready to settle for anything that worked, and we ended up with little numbers that made quite a statement.So much for blending in. And not only that, but we were matching! We probably laughed about that for half the day. Also, another interesting note, when we walked up to the register together to purchase these, one cashier started dealing with her in English, and the other decided to try German on me. Again, I was thrown, since we were obviously together. But I don’t mind being mistaken for a local!
After the long, rainy hike (awesome workout for the glutes!) it almost seemed as if we were stepping into a fairy tale! Such a shame the castle was never finished…
Fondue was the meal of choice for the evening as we wandered into a small, cozy restaurant with candlelit tables. Our main waitress was a pleasant, friendly older lady with gray hair held close to her head by tight curls. She wanted everything to be perfect for our group of six and lit a couple more candles for us. The next lady to come to our table with baskets of bread (so. much. bread.) was more stout, younger, blonde, and bold. Our table was running out of room for all the bread so she was instructing us to place the extra baskets on the pillows in the booth (that was new!). She also removed most of the candles and gave us a shrewd lecture in keeping our purses close in front of us. Apparently, our trusting nature in America is a privilege, and can’t afford to be taken abroad. I have to say I appreciated her honesty and straightforwardness.
This first place of grabbing dinner on our own was just the beginning for us learning how dining out works over there. Even if the place has closed, they will let you stay however long you like, until you ask for the check (they don’t always offer to bring it out). And the waiters hardly walk by very often, so we were left at our table, the only people still in the restaurant, for about 30 minutes after our meal was cleared, wondering where on earth our hosts had gone off to. We didn’t know if we should feel guilty for staying so late (after 11pm!) or if it was natural. Also, don’t ask waiters any special questions or favors…they speak English, but not necessarily enough for more unique topics. We were all puzzled at the fondue spread, having been very inexperienced in that type of dining, and asked the sweet older lady if we could have a tutorial. She graciously laughed and we laughed with her, feeling embarrassed and foolish, but grateful for her easygoing nature. Then suddenly she walked off and didn’t return! Too funny! Needless to say, we figured it out 😉
Next stop: Innsbruck, Austria–>Venice, Italy